Already impressed by the care their daughter, Katherine, received during the 39 days she spent in North York General Hospital’s Tippet Foundation Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Laura and Robert were shocked to see how far staff would go to give their daughter the best outcome possible.
Katherine’s condition made feeding uncomfortable, so she refused to eat. She depended on a feeding tube to give her the life-saving nutrients she needed to survive, but had trouble gaining weight. Her future was uncertain. By the time Katherine was four months old, Laura and Robert were emotionally exhausted and didn’t know where to turn.
North York General does not have an official feeding program, but that didn’t stop the paediatric team from rallying around the family. “We had to help,” says Wanh Porter, NICU Occupational Therapist. “We just couldn’t let Katherine fall through the cracks.”
Wanh had been studying a new feeding approach that reconnects pleasure with eating by mouth. “The window of opportunity for us to begin utilizing this approach is when the infant with oral aversion has reached the developmental stage of reaching and grasping for any object and bringing it to his or her mouth to explore,” Wanh explains. “At four months old, this was Katherine’s best chance.”
Therapy was intensive. The paediatric team would see Katherine as many as three times each day, building her oral motor skills and teaching her parents how to make feeding more positive. Staff members even checked in on the family after hours. “It really felt like we were in this together,” says Robert.
When Katherine finally fed from a bottle for the first time at five and a half months at North York General, everyone cried tears of joy. Katherine no longer relies on a feeding tube and Laura is finally getting the chance to feed her daughter – enjoying quiet, bonding moments she never thought would be possible.
Today, Katherine is happy, healthy, and her future looks bright. She just celebrated her first birthday, and enjoyed ice cream for the first time, although more went on her face than in her mouth! Every time Katherine giggles or smiles as she reaches for her bottle, Laura and Robert are reminded of just how far their daughter has come, and how much our hospital – and donors like you – did for her family. “It’s unheard of,” says Laura. “I don’t know where we would be without North York General.”
Now that’s Going Beyond Care.